Dr. Laura Havstad and Kathy Sheffield, LMFT, have published a research paper, “Study of Weight Loss as a Model for Clinical Research: Shifts in the Family System and the Course of Clinical Symptoms” in the April 2018 edition of the journal Family Systems. Here is a synopsis of the project:
Clinical sciences have not yet systematically tested the potential of Bowen family systems theory to understand and predict the course of a wide range of clinical symptoms. The article is a progress report on the development and application of a reliable method to document the emotional impact of the family system on clinical subjects and the course of their symptoms over time. A systematic method of analyzing data from family evaluation interviews has been developed to track shifts in the family emotional system associated with weight loss in overweight and obese individuals. The method produces a timeline of shifts in the family system, shifts in the functioning and anxiety levels of subjects, and changes in subjects’ weight. Four studies are described that illustrate and support the development and use of the method. It is hoped that this framework will encourage the practice of tracking the family system as a variable in mainstream clinical research, especially in studies of the course of symptoms and treatment outcomes over time and across a broad range of clinical disorders.
The research is ongoing, and a priority for Programs in Bowen Theory’s mission. The aim is development of a methodology that tracks the relationship in time between shifts in the family system, shifts in a symptomatic individual’s anxiety and functioning levels—also known as functional levels of self—and shifts in the course of their symptom of overweight. This is part of a broader goal to establish a reliable method that can be used widely in clinical research and clinical practice for tracking the emotional impact of family emotional system on the clinical course of the full range of symptoms, whether it be physical, emotional, or social illness.
The full spring 2018 issue of the journal Family Systems can be accessed by subscribers at the Bowen Center Website. You can also subscribe to the journal at the Bowen Center website.
The authors can also be contacted using the Research Articles and Information form on the web site contact page.
A video presentation on the research by Dr. Havstad is available for rent or purchase through Vimeo at: Weight Loss: Self Regulation or the Family System?
The video is from the March 3, 2018 Programs in Bowen Theory conference. The full proceedings, Functioning Up: Self Regulation in Families Under Stress are also available for rent or purchase.